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Exclusive | Tideway mulls working week overhaul

Thames Tideway

Tideway could trial 30 hour working weeks in a bid to improve conditions in the industry after slipping on its 50/50 gender target for the project team.

Tideway chief executive Andy Mitchell told New Civil Engineer that despite pledges to achieve a 50/50 gender split in the Tideway project team across job levels by the end of the scheme, the level of gender parity has stalled at 37%.

Mitchell said measures such as unconscious bias training, flexible working and using non-male wording in job adverts had all been used but “the dial’s not moving”.

As a result efforts will be made to tackle wider cultural issues in the industry, such as regular long hours and weekend work.

“There’s a whole bunch of practical things we need to do which hopefully will shift the perception of this being actually a hard industry to work in. If we don’t change that, we’re not going to solve the industry issues,” said Mitchell.

He listed 30 hour working weeks, nine-day fortnights and more job shares as possible solutions.

“We have to find ways of it being possible to work less hours but be doing serious jobs,” he said.

The £4.2bn super sewer will run for 25km from Acton in West London to Abbey Mills Pumping Station in the east when it opens in 2024. It is expected to help cope with London’s ageing sewer network, which results in 39M.t of sewage flowing into the Thames each year.

Read the full interview with Mitchell in the next issue of New Civil Engineer.

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